Uber driver sees passenger in wheelchair, takes off

Lissetti

Rebel Honey Badger
Article Manager
Moderator
CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- On-demand ridesharing has become the new normal way to get around -- but not for everyone. Disability advocates say Uber and Lyft have left millions of passengers in the dust -- without equal access to rides.


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By Renee Koury



Now a Bay Area man is suddenly among those left behind - after a terrible car crash six years ago changed his life forever.

"Becoming paralyzed is hard,'' said Joshua Foster, 35, of Concord. "I've gone through all this crap, it's hard, multiple surgeries, it's tough."

Yet, Foster says he's also stronger than ever. "I live in my own house... I take care of my own self."

He also drives his own car, swiftly folding his wheelchair and hoisting himself in the driver's seat.

But that is far from his only strength.

Foster is a world-class wheelchair bodybuilder, ranking in the top ten in professional competitions. "You have never met a more able handicapped person than myself," he said.

And so he was stunned about what happened one night.

"I wanted to go out and have fun, and so I called an Uber," he said.

Foster was heading to a friend's birthday party, and wanted to drink -- and not drive. So he called an Uber. However, when the driver pulled up, he didn't see Foster.

He saw a man in a wheelchair.


"He looked at me and he just literally went, 'No-o-o-o-o-o. No. No. No. No. No. I can't do this,' " Foster recalled, shaking his head vigorously as the driver did. "I was like, 'Are you sure?' ''

Foster tried to explain he didn't need help, that he could get in and out of the car himself.

"I was like, 'Hey man this is how it goes. I'm gonna hop on the seat, the wheels come off, the cushion comes off, I'll fold it and it sits right behind me 'cause, I drive my own self.'" Foster recalled saying. "He goes, 'No! Shut the door.' He just backed up and I'm like-- wow."

The Uber driver took off, leaving Foster in the driveway.

"I just want people to understand you can't keep doing this,'' Foster said. "You can't make people feel like they're less than human just because of a wheelchair."


Foster tried to report it to Uber. He did get a response, but it wasn't helpful.

"They were like, 'how do you rate your experience? A five or a one?' '' he recalls. "I'm like pfft. It was treating me like a robot. A Twitter robot."

Foster said he wanted to talk to Uber about making the service more accessible for people with disabilities. For example, he suggested a button in the app to notify drivers that the passenger will be using a wheelchair. Or a way to call a wheelchair accessible vehicle. As ridesharing companies increasingly take over the transportation industry, advocates say, they're not meeting their legal obligation to also serve those with special needs.

Foster contacted 7 On Your Side. We told his story to Uber, and the company said it does comply with ADA, the Americans With Disabilities Act, saying: "Drivers who use the Uber app agree to accommodate riders with disabilities and must comply with accessibility laws. We do not condone discrimination."

"You can't just drive up and see someone in a wheelchair and say I'm outta here,'' said Melissa Riess, attorney with Berkeley-based Disability Rights Advocates. The non-profit legal group has sued both Uber and Lyft for what it claims is a failure to provide access to those with special needs.

But it's not clear whether all gig-economy drivers, many of whom are just signing up, will comply with ADA, or even understand it.


"If you are a provider of transportation you must comply with the ADA,'' Riess said.

However, the law doesn't require drivers to take extraordinary measures, such as using special vehicles, to accommodate the disabled, Riess said.

"Just because you're covered by the ADA doesn't mean you have to go to the ends of the earth to accommodate people with disabilities, but you have to take reasonable steps,'' Riess said. For example, she said, "They're driving a Prius, and you have a collapsible wheelchair that can fit in the trunk. They (drivers) are obligated not to discriminate against you on the basis you're in a wheelchair, and give you a ride if it's possible."

Drivers also are obligated to let special needs passengers bring a service animal into the car, she said.

She said Uber and Lyft have gone full speed ahead in providing on-demand service, but forgot about those with disabilities. A transportation company is obligated to serve everyone under ADA.

Uber is testing a "wheelchair accessible vehicle" program in a few cities, but not yet in the Bay Area. Lyft has a button for disabled passengers but instead of rides, the app provides links to paratransit services, with phone numbers and website links. Both companies say they are working to improve their services for those with special needs.

As for Foster, another Uber driver did pick him up that night. After he reported the incident, Uber refunded his $8.00 fare, and the company promised to investigate the driver's actions. Foster says that does nothing to solve the larger problem.

"You hurt me big time by not treating me like a person,'' he said of being abandoned. "I'm hurt but I'm strong."

He worries more about other people with disabilities who are not as strong or independent. He sees them as a forgotten people who get discouraged by rejection and too often remain isolated. Uber and Lyft drivers, many just average folks doing a side job, may not realize how their actions affect those they leave behind.

"I don't want people with disabilities to be afraid to do stuff,'' he said. "To go, have fun, celebrate your friend's birthday. The number one thing is, we're human. This (wheelchair) isn't who we are. It's just transportation."





 

Rog’O Datto

Well-Known Member
I hope his fare wasn’t refunded from the driver who actually took him.
Post automatically merged:

That driver was a @@@@@@bag. As long as wheelchair-bound pax can get in and out themselves and the wheelchair will fit in the car, I see no reason not to take them.
I have only had one, older lady, she had help from family members getting in and the chair. I pushed her to the door when we got there.
 

Pax Collector

Well-Known Member
I've always done my best to accommodate disabled riders by opening doors, folding wheelchairs and putting it in my trunk and even push them if need be. No one knows what will happen to me in the future and I'd want someone to do the same for me if I can't make use of my legs anymore. The driver is a dirtbag.
 

SinTaxERROR

Well-Known Member
I completely understand and can certainly sympathize where this passenger is coming from.

But it’s a liability, even if he can get in or out of the vehicle himself without assistance.

Do you really think Uber or Lyft are going to have your back if this guy slips, stumbles, or falls and gets hurt getting in or out of your vehicle?

Isn’t this why specially equipped vehicles are made to accommodate wheelchairs?

Just sayin’...

But I do and will agree however the way the original driver handled this situation was completely wrong.
 

The Gift of Fish

Well-Known Member
I have to decline wheelchair rides because the wheelchairs don't fit in my trunk. (Camry Hybrid; the hybrid battery takes up a lot of the space which is very limited as a result).

But I would take them if possible. I ride denied a pax a couple of months ago because the wheelchair would not fit, but I would not have taken her anyway. She was a severely mentally disabled Lyft medical patient. She required a carer to be with her. She was wheeled out to the car, sitting on incontinence pads on the wheelchair.

No way would I take her even if the chair fit in the car - she was a case for specialist medical transport.
 
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Invisible

Well-Known Member
I’ve driven several pax with wheelchairs, walkers or rollators They were able to get in/out of the car alone. Only one pax needed assistance getting in, but her caregiver was with her.

Like Ariel said, as long as they can get in/out by themselves, there is no issue. I just don’t want to accept the liability if I had to pick them up since we are not med transport.
 

Rog’O Datto

Well-Known Member
I have to decline wheelchair rides because the wheelchairs don't fit in my trunk. (Camry Hybrid; the hybrid battery takes up a lot of the space which is very limited as a result).

But I would take them if possible. I ride denied a pax a couple of months ago because the wheelchair would not fit, but I would not have taken her anyway. She was severy mentally disabled
Shame on whoever tried to put her in a RS car.
 

Invisible

Well-Known Member
I have to decline wheelchair rides because the wheelchairs don't fit in my trunk. (Camry Hybrid; the hybrid battery takes up a lot of the space which is very limited as a result).
Sorry but if a vehicle can’t fit a wheelchair, then it should be removed from the platform.
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I'd like to think U/L would cover that. At that point, their insurance is active and should cover just about anything.
Not true. My friend’s daughter does Uber in my area. Her car was carjacked by the pax, and Uber’s insurance isn’t covering her vehicle for theft.

I wouldn’t trust that Uber’s insurance would cover medical for a pax falling. This is Uber after all, who isn’t ethical.
 

SinTaxERROR

Well-Known Member
I have transported many elderly people and others with disabilities with no issues.

Unfortunately, I do not trust the entities named Uber and Lyft to ever have my best interest at heart.

If you trust a company that will immediately deactivate you on the sole word of a pax, just imagine the fiasco that could or will occur should a pax get hurt under your watch. Even more so if they already have a disability.
 

The Gift of Fish

Well-Known Member
Sorry but if a vehicle can’t fit a wheelchair, then it should be removed from the platform.
No need to be sorry; fortunately rideshare cars don't need to be rideshare compliant so I am unaffected.

These companies are required to have a certain number of WAV in service; a requirement they probably ignore. But that's the right solution - to push the expense of providing WAV onto Uberlyft rather than on the drivers.
 

i_k

Well-Known Member
UberAssist is there to accommodate people with disabilities and seniors. I’m not sure if it’s available in his market or if there weren’t any available at the time. If he didn’t want to order UberAssist and take an UberX instead because he’s more than capable of getting in and out of a car, I don’t see that as a problem, though, I can see why some inconsiderate drivers would.

Regardless, the driver shouldn’t have declined the man a ride. That’s a :eek:itch move..
 

Jo3030

Well-Known Member
Moderator
I've helped a lady that injured her knee in/out of the car and back to her home.
I even helped her get inside her home.
It literally took me an extra 10 mins but she tipped me like $10 for being such a gentleman.
 

Lissetti

Rebel Honey Badger
Article Manager
Moderator
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
I once had to refuse a lady (middle aged, very heavy set) who ordered a ride with her Rascal Scooter.

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I was driving a Prius C2 at the time (the smallest of the Prius family.)

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I'm sure a strong man could lift that thing up and turn it sideways in a regular Prius, but no one is getting that into a C2, plus I'm a female not bigger than that scooter (sideways.) Her complaint was why are compact cars being allowed on the X platform without prior notice to the riders. I told her it's a 4 door, and not only that, it was one of those Xchange Lease cars, so Uber is well aware of it. I'm not slipping anything by Uber. I had to cancel and I pulled to the corner to watch and see what happened with the next driver that showed up. Sure enough, here comes a standard Prius. I watched as the guy got out, opened his hatchback, and folded his back seat down. Then I watched him struggle with the weight of that scooter as he tried to tilt it sideways.

OOOOPS! Did he just put a paint scratch on his bumper? :eek: Hope that wasn't an Xchange Lease vehicle too....(90 % chance it was in Seattle.):rollseyes:

Ping!.....Ping!......I got another request, and drove away from that dumpster fire.
 

Merc7186

Well-Known Member
Fake Service Animal....they will never see me cancelling.

Person in a wheelchair, hop on in (literally).

I took 5 members of the US Sled Hockey team from their practice facility to a strip joint (3 had chairs) right before they left for the Beijing Paraolympics. They won gold!
 
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